The 4 Most Popular Bookkeeping Programs for Your Business

The 4 Most Popular Bookkeeping Programs for Your Business

If you are just starting a business, or even if you've been in business for a while, you need to compare QuickBooks vs Freshbooks vs Xero vs Quicken Home & Business so you can hone in on the software that's most beneficial for you.

When you track your business finances with proper accounting software, not only does it make tax time a helluva lot easier, but more importantly, you always know exactly how well your company is doing (or how badly).

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks vs Xero vs Quicken Home & Business

Your financials are the ultimate report card for your business and will help keep your company in peak financial health.

You need to constantly tally the data, and then look at reports of your performance, so you can decide what's working well…and what's not.

When it comes to keeping track of your financials, you need something reliable and cost-effective. There really are only a few good options for your small to medium-sized business.

Let's take a look at QuickBooks vs Freshbooks vs Xero vs Quicken Home & Business so you can make an informed choice.

QuickBooks (Online or Desktop)

QuickBooks is a true accounting software for business. You can use it whether you're a sole operator or a large corporation, and it will grow as your company expands.

QuickBooks has been around for a long time, so its original product (aka the desktop version) is software that you install on your computer. It has a “database file” that you set up for your company and then add to as you do your books over time. This file sits on your computer “locally.”

However, the newer product, Quickbooks Online is a fully web-based version. While some legacy Quickbooks Desktop users (like myself) bitch and moan about it often, it's the future (obviously). I've grown to like it because man of the modern day features you want work more smoothly.


  • Quickbooks is incredibly easy to use and is 
  • Its users love this software because of its efficiency.
  • They provide quality accounting reports.
  • Quickbooks is flexible with 3rd party applications.
  • Its pricing is affordable and a great option for those wanting exceptional value for the price they pay.


Quickbooks supplies its users with 5 different plans to choose from, starting with the self-employed plan that is designed specifically for independent contractors and freelancers costs just $15 per month. And ending with the Advanced plan is the newest subscription level in the QuickBooks family.

It includes the features also provided in the Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus plans, with additional features for a growing business approaching mid-market size.

Quickbooks provides so many different plans they couldn't all be listed here so to get the full experience of plan shopping with Quickbooks its best to check out their website.


QuickBooks Desktop has both Mac and PC versions, but you can't use the database file interchangeably. In other words, you can't save work in your file on a PC at work, then go home and open the database on a QBD installed on your Mac.

In the last 5 years, we've seen QuickBooks really start to move their product to be web-based version, QuickBooks Online. While it does all the same things as QBD, its interface and style of use are fairly different. But again, has all the same functionality.

The big benefit of QBO is that its web-based so you, your employees, and your CPA can get into it from anywhere. Plus, it has lots of integration from other productivity tool makers for things like time tracking, payroll, benefits management, bill payments, mobile receipt capture…you name it.

The major downside, in my opinion, to QBO is the price…you pay more (per company database) versus some of the others. Alternatively, the great benefit of QB Desktop is that for the single purchase price of the software, you can have as many database files as you want, at no extra cost. 

That said, my opinion is that QBs will slowly phase out QB Desktop for the reasons I just mentioned. QBO is a much better revenue model, and keeping the product up to date for all users is so much easier.

Because of QBO's price, I often use FreshBooks and/or Quicken Home & Business for very small businesses and freelancers. Both are cheaper. I do recommend QBO for companies that have employees and/or have inventory to manage.

Five of my clients use QB Online, while one uses QB Desktop and one uses FreshBooks (for their business). I personally use Quicken Home & Business, which combines all my personal finances (including investments and real estate) and my consulting business finances into one program.


Xero is cloud-based accounting software. It allows you to manage your business in multiple currencies and boasts an extensive network of integrations, making it super easy to automate communication between all your preferred apps.

It also has full import capabilities for all up and coming banking options like PayPal, Transferwise, Payoneer, and so on.


  • Xero is cost-effective and offers a free 30-day trial so that you have the freedom to explore before you buy.
  • This software provides a clean interface that gives you instant visibility into your financial position making your life so much easier.
  • It offers an estimating/quoting/order process that ties into AR invoices smoothly.
  • Managing personal expenses with mobile review and approval of each receipt is made so easy with this program.
  • It can be accessed from any device with an active Internet connection.
  • Xero is constantly upgrading with better features that automatically update so you’re always using the best tools.


Xero currently provides three plans to choose from, Early, Growing, and Established. These three plans cost $9, $30, and $60 monthly for different provided services. From sending and creating invoices, to tracking projects and expenses you're covered with Xero. 


I don't use Xero myself, but I can say that it's a very widely used bookkeeping software for small businesses. Additionally, the help center gives a variety of valuable video tutorials on using the program and optimizing your user experience, even if you're relatively new to using it.


I would generally recommend FreshBooks for smaller businesses and freelancers who need basic features like sending invoices (along with payments) and tracking expenses.


  • Freshbooks allows its users to customize their invoices and create that professional look.
  • It will send estimates to help win jobs advancing your clientbase and business overall.
  • All your information is securely stored within Freshbooks giving you the ability to feel safe and secure to use this software.
  • Freshbooks Toronto-based customer service is award-winning giving its customers the best experience without the long waiting times and confusing processes.
  • The Freshbooks dashboard is so visually pleasing and easy to understand you’ll be able to focus on what is important.


Much like Freshbooks' competitors, they offer multiple plans for their different types of users. All plans ranging from $6 to $20 and above. Each plan is customized for the self-employed, small businesses, large businesses, and those requiring more advanced services.


Getting everything set up in FreshBooks is easy, thanks to the straightforward walkthroughs. They tell you what you need to get started, ask you for the relevant information, and offer tips throughout the process.

You can be ready to start using FreshBooks in just a few minutes after making some easy choices. It's an accessible and straightforward version of an accounting app.

All that said, ultimately I would recommend going with Quicken for single-member businesses and freelancers because there you can combine your personal small business finances in one place for a total net worth picture…while also having the ability to invoice.

Quicken Home & Business

Quicken Home & Business is one of the most significant personal money management software packages on the market. Quicken was started by Intuit (owner of Quickbooks) but they sold it off and replaced their personal product with Mint.


  • With Quicken Home & Business you’ll be able to view balances, budgets, accounts and transactions.
  • It’s dashboard shows spending trends and other metrics important to your business.
  • It’ll keep your finances always up to date syncing data across your desktop, web, and mobile.


Quicken has many yearly plans for its users to choose from beginning with Quicken Starter: costing $34.99. Quicken Deluxe: $44.99. Quicken Premier: $67.99. Quicken Home & Business: $89.99. All providing individual assets and important tools to help grow your business.


Quicken is primarily known for being a personal finance software, but it does have a Home & Business edition. This version allows you to add both business account tracking, as well as rental property tracking.

I like it largely because you can combine your business and personal accounts, for a complete net worth. Plus, it has an invoicing function built right in as well.

They sell it for Mac and PC, but the main issue is that they only sell the Home & Business edition for PC. The Mac version does all the same things but doesn't have invoicing.

I personally use this software to track all my personal, business, and real estate finances in one place. I've been using it for 20 years. Enough said.

QuickBooks vs FreshBooks vs Xero vs Quicken Home & Business Wrap-up

As usual, which software you go with depends on your needs. Quickbooks online and Xero are pretty similar and can handle most any size business. Freshbooks and Quicken Home & Business are geared toward smaller companies that don't have inventory.

You can also compare even more business software and services at a site like digital supermarket, if you need other functionality for your business.

Out of all five of the options, QuickBooks vs FreshBooks vs Xero vs Quicken Home & Business, I use Quicken Home & Business for my personal consulting corp and personal accounts.

For my business clients, all of them use either Quickbooks Online or Quickbooks Desktop.

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Joe DiSanto is the founder of Play Louder! He has built multi-million dollar businesses, produced critically acclaimed documentaries and an Emmy-winning TV show, invested millions in real estate, and semi-retired at age 43. Now, Joe serves as a Fractional CFO for several creative firms and is sharing a lifetime of fiscal know-how via Play Louder, an invaluable resource that helps individuals and business owners increase their net worth and plan better for their future.